The growth of the CBD industry over the past five years is nothing short of amazing. Today, the hemp-derived CBD marketplace is massive, with billions of dollars in annual sales. Some experts believe that the global CBD marketplace could reach $20 billion by the year 2025. However, while the global fascination with CBD can’t be denied, many people don’t know where the cannabinoid originates from.
While there are countless CBD-infused products on the market, most do not realize they are all originally sourced from hemp flowers. Whether it be pet products or topical creams, all CBD products are made from the cannabinoids extracted from flowers. To give you a better idea of where your favorite CBD products come from, let’s explore the topic of hemp flowers.
Hemp Flowers and Cannabis Flowers
A great place to start with learning about hemp buds is by understanding the difference between cannabis and hemp. Importantly, both cannabis and hemp plants contain over 100 different cannabinoids – including cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG).
The highest quantities of these complex chemicals can be found in the flower or “bud” of female plants. (This is why many farmers choose to plant feminized seeds.) When a female cannabis or hemp plant remains unpollinated, it produces even larger amounts of cannabinoids in its flowers. As such, all cannabis is grown to produce flowers rich in the cannabinoid THC. Similarly, all CBD and CBG hemp plants are grown strictly for their cannabinoid-rich flowers. However, industrial hemp plants are not grown for their flowers, but rather for the fibers in their stalks.
Hemp flower buds differ from cannabis flowers in their THC content. Importantly, all cannabis sativa plants with flowers that contain less than 0.3% THC are legally considered to be hemp. While lacking in THC, hemp buds are rich in CBD and CBG.
Hemp farmers growing hemp for CBD or CBG can purchase seeds specially bred to produce the highest percentages of CBD or CBG as possible. At High Grade Hemp Seed, we recommend such strains as our Berry Blossom CBD strain or our Matterhorn CBG strain.
Growing CBD Hemp Flower vs. Growing Biomass
Hemp farmers who decide to grow flowers instead of biomass will need to take certain precautions. This notion is particularly true when it comes time to harvest the crop. During this phase, biomass growers can use more commercial methods in harvesting, while flower producers must pay more careful attention not to damage the product.
Hemp CBD biomass is harvested and sold with most plant materials included within the product. As such, biomass features precious flowers, as well as relatively cannabinoid-reduced materials such as stems, stalks, and fan leaves. Conversely, hemp buds are harvested, processed, and sold without the other excess plant material. Understandably, flowers sell for over $300 per pound, while biomass generally sells for less than $10 per pound.
At harvest time, those who plan to sell hemp biomass to a refinery or to extract resin on their own from their biomass can cut down their hemp plants using a combine. Hemp flower farmers, on the other hand, need to be much more careful. Hemp buds are delicate and bruise easily. Farmers must harvest flowers by hand, often using labor to cut plants with machetes, tobacco knives, or shears. Harvesting flowers by hand ensures that the trichomes (the resinous glands in the flower that store terpenes and cannabinoids) are not damaged or contaminated.
While hemp biomass can be dried in a matter of days, hemp flowers need to be dried and cured, which can take weeks in a dry facility. Curing flowers will ensure a smooth smoking experience. Many hemp farmers perform the drying and curing process themselves, which takes a lot of careful handling, a well-designed drying facility, and plenty of patience. (Here’s a handy guide to harvesting hemp for biomass or hemp buds.)
Large-scale industrial hemp farmers tend to grow hemp for biomass. Growing hemp flowers takes a lot of extra focus and care, which can be difficult to manage on a large scale.
Products Made from Hemp Flower Buds
Anyone who has been paying attention to the health and wellness industry knows that CBD oil is one of the hottest new products. CBG oil has also started to rise in popularity. Resin from the flower is processed and the CBD and CBG-rich oil is extracted and then added to a multitude of products. In contrast, a hemp flower is the unprocessed bud from the hemp plant.
A dried flower contains the full spectrum of the plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes. Consumer demand for smokable hemp flowers is increasing and entrepreneurs are rising to the occasion and producing boutique-quality flowers for the market.
Smokable Hemp Flower
Smoking CBD or CBG hemp flower is becoming more popular. Whether smoked in a bubbler, pipe, or as a pre-rolled (or self-rolled) joint, people enjoy the relaxing, calming effect that CBD and CBG delivers. Vaping flowers using a vape pen is also a popular trend. Those who don’t want the “feel” of smoking hemp buds can vaporize their flowers in a dry herb vaporizer.
Do note that the legality of smokable hemp flowers is under scrutiny in a number of state markets. According to the National Hemp Association, “smokable hemp flower … has a negative perception amongst many lawmakers.” Not only do hemp buds closely resemble cannabis flowers, but when burned, certain cannabinoids like THCA actually become psychoactive. For reasons such as this, many states have opted to make smokable hemp flowers illegal.
If you are planning on growing and selling smokable flowers, it is highly recommended you do appropriate research on the laws of your given marketplace.
What is Smokable Hemp Good For?
Why do consumers love buying and smoking hemp buds?
Cannabinoids without psychotropic effects
Scientists are just beginning to learn how the cannabinoids in hemp plants affect the body’s endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate mood, sleep, appetite, and memory. Many people believe CBD and CBG can offer physical, psychological, and emotional benefits related to the endocannabinoid system. (Here’s what we know about the scientific research on CBD and the scientific research on CBG.)
Hemp flower gives people the ability to take CBD and CBG without any unwanted psychotropic effects. As set out in the 2018 Farm Bill, industrial hemp plants must contain less than 0.3% THC. That’s not enough to make users feel “high.” For those who want the benefits of CBD and CBG while still feeling focused and sharp, hemp flowers are a great option.
Smoking hemp flower is also a good alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes and may even help users quit cigarettes. An early study found that smokers who wanted to quit smoked cigarettes 40% less compared to a control group when they were allowed to smoke CBD hemp flower instead.
One of the most popular benefits of smoking hemp flower (as opposed to consuming CBD or CBG oil) is that hemp buds offer a strong and unique fragrance, known as its terpene profile. The terpene profiles of hemp flower vary dramatically. Some are floral or fruity, while others include heavy notes of cheese, gasoline, and skunk. While that might sound off-putting to the uninitiated, many consumers absolutely love cheesy or skunky hemp flower.
Here at High Grade Hemp Seed, our Merlot strain is famous for its sharp terp profile of opened tennis balls, orange peel, chocolate, and cherries jubilee. Alternatively, our Trophy Wife strain is equally beloved for its deep aroma of cheese and skunk with cherry undertones.
Consuming CBD or CBG through a tincture or food slows down the activation rate of the CBD or CBG. On the other hand, smoking hemp flower buds allows the CBD or CBG to pass immediately through the lungs and directly into the bloodstream. Not only does this mean smokers can feel the calming effects of CBD or CBG almost immediately, but it also means they enjoy a higher effect (known in scientific terms as a higher bioactivation rate) because the CBD or CBG isn’t processed in the digestive system or liver first.
Full spectrum experience
The final benefit of smoking hemp flower is that a consumer can enjoy the full spectrum of cannabinoids within the bud. Remember, besides CBD and CBG, a hemp flower contains many different cannabinoids as well as terpenes. Some hemp flower consumers believe that the “whole is greater than the parts,” meaning that the positive effects of CBD and/or CBG can be enhanced in concert with all the other chemical compounds in the hemp flower. This is known as the “entourage effect.”
Should You Grow Hemp Flowers Instead of Biomass?
Growing hemp flowers instead of biomass is not for the faint of heart. However, farmers who are willing to accept the challenges and risks of hemp buds have the opportunity to see a strong ROI on this still-emerging field. More and more consumers are actively searching for smokable flower and entrepreneurs are looking for farmers to partner with to get more products to market. (Check out our ultimate 2021 Hemp Growing Guide.)
If you decide to grow smokable hemp flowers, make sure you research the laws in your state. Regulations change quickly, so make sure your compliance team is up-to-speed on the latest developments.
High Grade Hemp Seed sells a range of feminized hemp seed strains that offer consistently high rates of CBD or CBG and world-class terp profiles. Contact our knowledgeable representatives today to learn more about growing hemp buds